God, Probability, and Life after Death
An Argument for Human Resurrection
- ISBN: 9781498526067
- Published By: Lexington Books
- Published: November 2017
William Hunt’s God, Probability, and Life After Death: An Argument for Human Resurrection is a book I did not know what to make of. The author describes himself as an “educationist” who boasts a degree in philosophy of religion earned after a career of teaching statistics at GSM London (265). This book reflects his eclectic career containing within itself an amalgamation of mathematics, philosophy, theology, and probability.
The book itself intends to “present a personal resurrection hypothesis” (xiii). He does this by pulling from his philosophy of religion training while building the foundation on his statistics career. His is an explicitly Christian exercise, something he admits after noting that there are, in fact, other religions and they do have things to say about resurrection (xiv). Jesus in His life and death is a central character in his hypothesis. He argues that “[the] dead person will be resurrected” and that proposition stands on his earlier proposition that God must exist because “Jesus died and was resurrected,” an argument that could consume a book of its own.
The work has good moments. The first chapter on the nature of God is, for instance, while perhaps lacking in originality quite nuanced in its arguments. I spent so much time though wondering what type of book this was. This is admittedly perhaps not the most important question that should arise out of reading a book whose message is literally a matter of life and death, however, the more I read it the more this book refused to be contained to the various categories I had been trained to know by professional scholars of religion. This book cannot be said to be a work of “religious studies.” It is wholly lacking in objectivity and seeks to do religion rather than analyze religion. It is additionally not quite a work of “theology” and, if it is, it is a theology that smells more akin to Sir Isaac Newton than it is recognizable to contemporary theologians. Furthermore, while I cannot boast to having advanced training in mathematics I cannot imagine that mathematicians or statisticians would own this book as one of their own. The book is perhaps best thought of as a work of “apologetics.” The book itself, however, does not see itself that way. The author, while aware of his Christianity, views this work as written for everyone, not simply as a defense of the faith.
Looking beyond this, I was also troubled by the very attempt to marry mathematics and the resurrection. I will admit to coming to this book with my own academic and theological biases, both of which were mild to moderately offended by this undertaking. As an academic, I wanted so desperately for Hunt to follow the rules I knew, to write within the parameters of religious studies or theology. As a religious person I was unsure about his taking a tenant of faith and treating it as a logical proposition. Faith, as I understand it, is not and does not have to be logical. Christianity itself is founded on the so-called “scandal” of the fallen Messiah who being dead brings the believer to life—who carries the believer against the grain of mortal existence from death to life, as the believer herself, by all outward appearance moves slowly, from life to death. The miracle of the resurrection is its contrast to logic, not its cohesion with it. To be clear, I am not meaning to suggest that faith must be void of reason, I am only suggesting that good theology does not require statistics and, indeed, it may stand more beautifully on its own.
In the end, therefore, I found myself frustrated rather than convinced by his argumentation. With that said, the book is valuable for the challenge it offers the scholar. What should theology look like? What are appropriate theological questions? What should be the relationship between theology and other disciplines? In this book the scholar is forced to confront these, and other, worthwhile quandaries.
Taylor Kerby is a fulltime educator and graduate of Claremont Graduate Univeristy. He holds Masters degrees in Religion and Education.Taylor KerbyDate Of Review:November 14, 2018